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Beet and Quinoa Salad w. Feta + Tahini Dressing

I’m writing this as I sit on the ferry going north, watching the Northern California landscape jolt past the windows. I sat for a bit outside in the sun with my requisite Blue Bottle drip until the wind drove me inside. It’s a gorgeous day to be out on the water, and though the lack of rain is sorely lamented I cannot help but appreciate this dry and sunny winter/spring we’ve had — this, my last winter/spring in California for awhile.

Meanwhile, thanks to the magic of the Internet and smart phones, I can tell you about this salad. The idea grew out of a long weekend full of many meals out, lots of cheese, and a chocolate milkshake and onion rings (!) consumed while watching a Giants game from a diner in Emeryville. My body was screaming at me to feed it vegetables and whole grains, and so I happily obliged.

Anyway, it’s not like eating quinoa and beets is a hardship for me — in fact it’s quite the opposite. Nor did I necessarily feel like I was eating ‘health food’ when I gobbled this salad up for lunch two days in a row. It just was what I wanted and needed, and all that protein and fiber and other good stuff was simply an added bonus.

Yes, there’s a bit of feta here but I think you could do fine without if that’s your inclination; I also recommend making large batches and stashing them in your fridge for work lunches or a quick dinner when you’re pressed for time. Along with some good bread and hummus or a piece of baked fish you’ll be satisfied and full for hours (I will note I ate my portions unaccompanied by anything else and was quite pleased).

Summer looms, and I am soaking up these late spring days as much as possible. Another argument for the make-ahead meal: you can down as many hours as you can manage out-of-doors and tumble home tanned and sunned out with nary a qualm about what’s for dinner.

Well–just a thought.

[print_this]Beet Salad with Quinoa and Feta

This salad may be easily doubled, and with most quinoa salad recipes is very forgiving. I love it as-is for its simplicity but you can add other vegetables as you like — steamed spinach? — or nuts, or sunflower seeds. It makes for a very hearty and packable lunch, and if you steam the beets while the quinoa is cooking the active time is greatly reduced as well.

Makes 3-4 servings

1 cup cooked quinoa, cooled
1 bunch red beets, steamed, cooled, and chopped into quarters
1 cup feta cheese
1 can chickpeas, rised and drained
1/4 cup tahini
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3-4 tablespoons warm water
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste

In a large bowl, stir together the quinoa, beets, feta, and chickpeas. In a small bowl whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, warm water, salt and pepper. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Vegans: omit the feta. [/print_this]

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